Longview Tea Garden gutted in fire

Darjeeling: The production unit of one of the biggest tea gardens - Longview Tea Garden - in Darjeeling hills was gutted in fire.

The fire broke out at 3 am at the production unit in West Bengal's Kurseong sub-division.

Four fire brigades from Kurseong and Siliguri were pressed into service, but by the time they reached the spot most of the property had been destroyed.

The garden workers had also tried to control the fire, but due to the wooden architecture of the unit, fire spread rapidly.

"There were wooden floors so it easily caught fire," said Gurmit Mallik, Manager of Longview Tea Garden, Silliguri.

Fire officials said short circuit could be the cause of fire.

"There is maintenance work going on in the tea industry and maybe due to some spark that got in touch with the tea dust led to the explosion," said Bishnu Prasad Dhar, a fire brigade official.

No casualties have been reported as the unit was temporarily closed, but the management estimated that the loss to property could be over 40 million rupees.

The tea garden used to produce 700,000 kilograms of tea annually, and 1206 casual and permanent employees work in the tea garden.